Read One Night More Online

Authors: Clara Bayard

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #New Adult & College

One Night More

BOOK: One Night More
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One Night More

By Clara Bayard

One Night of Danger Series, #2

Copyright© 2013 by Clara Bayard

www.ClaraBayard.com

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All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Chapter One

When I was a kid, seven or eight maybe, I got stepped on in one of those ball pit things. I was dazed and buried in the brightly colored mire within seconds. I struggled to make my way back to the surface, but the balls were a strange combination of soft and hard, slick and heavy. It seemed like hours before my head popped up just in time to get yelled at for being "out of sight" of my parents.

Waking up fighting the effects of being drugged, in the trunk of a car was a bizarrely similar feeling.

It was an odd memory to call up, but it helped keep the wave of panic about to crash over me at bay, at least for a moment.

It took a few minutes for me to clear the drug-induced fog in my brain and remember what happened. The last thing I remembered was laughing as Sam left my apartment to get some food and drifting off to sleep.

But somehow I ended up in the tiny space, jostled by every bump in the road; my well-padded body no help on the crappy city streets. Straining my eyes to see in the blackness that was only pierced by a sickly yellow light of indeterminate source.

A brief memory flashed. Standing in my bathrobe looking at a masked face. My hand flew reflexively to the back of my neck, a tiny spot of soreness where the needle had jabbed into me.

Right. I'd been abducted. That was bad. Very bad. Need to not focus on it right now bad. But Sam would save me, right? My hero, my cop, my lover. Except by the time he got back to my apartment I'd have been long gone. I doubted the men who took me left a polite note of explanation with phone numbers and addresses.

I prodded at the walls of the trunk, trying to find a weapon or an escape plan or anything to keep me from falling apart completely. As long as I was trying, looking, everything could be fine.

A wrenching sob threatened to burst from my mouth but I choked it down, knowing once I started I would never stop.

I took five deep breaths and then went back to my exploring. I cursed as my fingernail snagged in a corner, pulling a string and a bit of carpet with it as I yanked it back. I sucked on the sore tip and froze as the car slowed down. I could hear traffic all around, but no voices or animals. It occurred to me that we hadn't stopped moving once since I woke up. Which meant we had to be on a road with no traffic lights. Highway, or at least one of the parkways that led out of the center of the city. I shifted over to press my ear against the back of the trunk. As the car sped up and performed a series of twisty maneuvers, I decided we were definitely on the parkway. That was good news. It meant I wasn't too far from home.

I used to know this road like the back of my hand. Every Sunday afternoon headed up to brunch. We'd laugh about our hangovers and tease each other about how bad the food would be. On those days everything seemed perfect. I'd thought our whole lives would continue like that, and he –
no
. I couldn't think about him. Not the time or the place for that.

Anger at myself fueled me and I searched my mind for a solution. I'd seen a story on the local news once about a girl who was kidnapped and stuffed in the trunk of a car too. She managed to disable a brake light and got the car pulled over. But I didn't even know where the brake lights were; let alone how to sabotage them.

I fumbled at where I thought the latch for the trunk would be, but there was nothing to hold onto. If I'd had a screwdriver or something maybe, but with bare hands and no light it was impossible, and my abductors hadn't been thoughtful enough to leave me a toolkit, either.

As my bruised finger hit the metal an idea came to me. I felt for the uneven carpet in the corner and found it. I pulled at it slowly, struggling to get enough leverage with my arms wedged beside me. Being a big girl in a compact trunk didn't leave a lot of space to move my long limbs.

My broken nail throbbed but I pushed ahead, shoving everything except the careful yanking out of my mind. The noise of the road faded, the thrum of the engine disappeared. All I heard was my breathing and the soft rasp of carpet coming free.

It took a few terrifying minutes, but the fabric slowly came up without ripping. I folded it over for better leverage and kept going. Finally it was free. I shifted my body over against the back of the trunk and squirmed to hold the folded carpet underneath me.

In the corner on the driver's side, barely visible, there was a cable running from the trunk back into the car. It had to be the right thing. My only chance. I gripped it tightly and tugged. Again and again. Harder and harder. For the longest time I only succeeded in making my fingers burn and my wrist ache.

But eventually, after a million years, the cable shifted barely enough to get my fingers underneath it. That half an inch felt like a mile. I curled my hand into a fist and pulled again. Now, with better leverage and a tighter grip I could feel it loosening. Feel my chance of escape growing.

My heart was beating so fast. My blood rushing as if it too wanted to be free.

I gritted my teeth and pulled again. The car slowed and pulled to a stop. This was my moment. With every bit of strength and determination I had left, I yanked the cable towards the front of the car. I heard a quiet snapping sound and saw the most wonderful thing.

A line of light grew brighter and thicker as the trunk popped open. It was only a few inches, but to me it was the entire world.

Knowing I'd have scant seconds, I burst up, shoving the lid out of my way. It didn't matter that I was barefoot and only wearing a bathrobe. I didn't care who might be coming after me. All I knew was they weren't going to take me again easily. If I died running, so be it. I would never be trapped again. Never be helpless again.

I clambered out of the trunk, blinked at the bright sun shining over me and ran. I barely registered the street below me and the sidewalk next to me. A car honked but I ignored it, fleeing as fast as I could.

Darting around a truck, I finally looked up to see where I was. As I'd thought, the end of the parkway that ran northwest out of the city. The river was across three lanes of traffic and down an embankment. I went the other way; keeping stopped cars between me and the one I'd left, hoping they couldn't see me.

Within seconds I heard raised voices and knew they – he, whoever – were looking for me. Thank goodness for insane traffic. I weaved between the cars, wanting more space before I hit the sidewalk. There was a café not far away and I could see people standing outside.

A crowd was exactly what I needed. And a way out of the street unseen.

Going on pure instinct, I slipped between an SUV and a cherry red sports car and made my move. My feet slammed against the ground and my robe nearly came undone as I ran faster than I ever had before. As the front of the café and its shocked-looking patrons came within reach I dared a glance over my shoulder.

Two men in black jackets were following my path. One held his hand in his pocket, the other spoke into a cell phone.

I said a silent prayer that they wouldn't hurt anyone else and plunged ahead. I shoved between the line of people outside and slipped past the door of the café.

Someone laughed and said, "No shirt, no shoes, no service."

I ignored him and kept moving until I was next to the counter. A middle-aged woman stood there, gawking at me. "Honey, what the hell?"

"I need to use your phone. It's an emergency."

"Clearly," she replied, completely calm. For some reason that made me feel better.

"Phone?"

"I've got my cell or there's a landline in the office in the back."

I looked outside. The men chasing me weren't in sight for the moment. "In the back, please."

She nodded and wiped her hands on a towel. "Follow me."

I adjusted my robe to cover me a little better and walked behind her, sweeping my gaze around the room. Most people seemed vaguely amused. Life in the city. Only actual violence would begin to faze them, and I was hoping to avoid that if possible.

The woman ushered me into a tiny cramped office filled with file boxes and supplies. It reminded me of my old job at Courier Express. The job that had gotten me into this trouble in the first place.

"I'll wait with you, honey."

"Thanks," I said, picking up the phone. "Can you lock that door?"

"Sure." She did as I dialed.

Her head cocked to the side in surprise as I called out the number I wanted information to give me. She'd expected me to call nine-one-one, but there was only one cop I needed to talk to.

I let information connect me and cleared my throat.

"Fourteenth Precinct, how may I help you?"

"I'd like to speak to Detective Sam Rollins, please." My voice was shaky, but audible. No small feat.

"Just a moment."

The woman in the office eyed me, but didn't say anything.

I heard the click of a transferred line and then ringing. It went on too long and my face fell. Then there was another click. The line rang again once and was picked up. Sam's voice, breathless and rough came through. "Rollins."

"Sam?"

"Who is…shit, Carly?"

"It's me," I said, tears stinging my eyes.

"Are you okay? Where are you?"

"I'm at a café off the parkway. They're looking for me."

"Address," he barked.

"I don't…hold on." I covered the mouthpiece and asked the woman. I repeated what she said into the phone.

"Cops will be there in two minutes. I'll be there in ten. Are you somewhere safe right now?"

"I think so."

"Don't move until you hear from me. I'll call you back on this line, okay?"

"Okay. Sam, I…"

I wasn't sure what to say next, but he hung up while I was thinking about it. Damn. I'd been so focused on getting him that I hadn't thought about what this meant. The mess I'd dragged him into had some serious potential consequences for him and it was getting worse every minute. He'd save me, of course, but at what cost to his own career?

"Honey, why don't you sit down," the woman said, interrupting my thoughts.

"Yeah, okay. Thanks." I sank down into the chair, leaving my hand on the phone and training my eyes on the door. "Someone's coming to help."

"I figured." She smiled at me softly and then fell silent.

Together we listened for updates from the other side of the door. There were a few exclamations of concern, but no yelling from inside the café. There was shouting in the distance as the sound of sirens grew louder and louder.

My hands shook as I heard a voice over a loudspeaker or something. I braced for gunshots or explosions, but nothing came. The noise level in the café increased and I could imagine the patrons, some shrinking back, others glued to the windows to see the excitement.

More than one car peeled away fast enough that the squeal of tires was loud even in the locked back room.

An authoritative voice sounded out above the din and quieted the café. Probably a cop getting the scene in order. Or so I hoped.

"Should we go out there?"

I shook my head at the woman. "My-my friend said to wait for his call. Just in case."

She nodded and came around to stand next to me. "Just in case."

Her apparent calm was contagious and I felt myself relax, just the slightest bit.

But then a loud crash way too close to us sent my pulse racing again. "What was that?" I whispered.

"I'm not sure. Shh."

My hands trembled as I waited to see what was coming next. The quiet, aside from murmuring voices in the front, was almost worse than the previous cacophony of sound. Everything sounded like a threat or an imminent attack.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when the phone rang.

"Yes?"

"I'm coming in the front door of the restaurant right now. My guys have the place secured. You can come out."

I nodded, forgetting Sam couldn't see me yet.

"Carly? Did you hear me? Are you still okay?"

"Fine, Sam. See you in a minute."

My voice was so even, so calm. But as I lurched at the door and fumbled with the lock, I was anything but. I flung it open and sprinted down the short hallway, probably flashing most of the place, but I didn't care.

The second I saw Sam any semblance of strength left me. He looked like a comic book hero in head-to-toe black aside from the police department logo on his jacket. I could see a gun in his holster and what looked like a bulletproof vest covering his broad chest. His longish, curly hair was pulled back from his face and his wide jaw was dark with stubble. A massive sob ripped through me and I threw myself into his big, strong arms.

BOOK: One Night More
7.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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